Skip to content

Ontario fan throws banana at Wayne Simmonds in shameful racist display

Sep 22, 2011, 11:10 PM EDT

Wayne Simmonds AP

In what the NHL calls a “stupid and ignorant” display of racism, at least one fan threw a banana at black Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds during a shootout attempt tonight. Simmonds still managed to score on his attempt, although the Flyers ended up losing that preseason game to the Detroit Red Wings in front of a neutral-site crowd in London, Ontario.

It’s possible that this wasn’t the only time a fan attempted to throw a banana at Simmonds during the game, either. Brian Floyd passes along a fan’s note that someone tried to hit Simmonds with one late in the third period when he scored a 3-3 goal to send the contest to overtime, but that attempt fell short.

Sam Carchidi caught up with Simmonds following the game, who confirmed that it happened but said he didn’t want to make a big deal about it. Here’s a little more from Simmonds on what must have been a strange moment.

“I don’t know if it had anything to do with the fact I’m black,” the Toronto native said. “I certainly hope not. When you’re black, you kind of expect (racist) things. You learn to deal with it.”

Simmonds acknowledged the banana rattled him, and his only thought was to get off a shot — which went in for the Flyers’ only score in the shootout.

“It shocked me and knew I had to keep going and get a shot off,” he said. “It was certainly unusual.”

Simmonds deserves credit for shaking it off in such a professional way, but the fan (or fans) should be ashamed for that revolting act. To add an extra level of sadness to an already awful situation, Simmonds is a Scarborough, Ontario native.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time hockey fans have thrown bananas at a black hockey player. Former Carolina Hurricanes goalie Kevin Weekes dealt with the racial epithet during a 2002 series against the Montreal Canadiens.

As far as exchanges between opponents, it’s impossible to know how many slurs fly around during trash talking sessions, although there was at least once incident in which the matter became public. Georges Laraque accused Sean Avery of calling him a “monkey” in 2005, a claim that Avery denied.

Naturally, hockey isn’t the only sport in which fans interact with black players in such a way. (Soccer fans have a reputation of doing so, for example.) That doesn’t make it any less disturbing, especially since it’s far from uncommon to see black players in prominent roles now. Groundbreaking players such as Willie O’Ree and Grant Fuhr have made way for an impressive wave of stars, from Jarome Iginla to Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien.

Obviously, such a ghastly display of racism is discouraging – it’s 2011, after all – but hopefully this will just be an ugly, isolated incident.

Update (10:15 am ET):  NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released the following statement regarding the incident.

“We have millions of great fans who show tremendous respect for our
players and for the game. The obviously stupid and ignorant action by one
individual is in no way representative of our fans or the people of London,
Ontario.”

Latest Posts
  1. ‘Resilient’ Blue Jackets leave Sharks worried about defense

    Oct 24, 2014, 2:04 AM EDT

    Columbus Blue Jackets v San Jose Sharks Getty Images

    Scott Hartnell’s four assists included a wondrous “kick-pass.”

  2. Red-hot Quick sets new Kings’ franchise shutout record

    Oct 24, 2014, 1:35 AM EDT

    St Louis Blues v Los Angeles Kings Getty Images

    His 33rd goose egg breaks a brief tie with Rogie Vachon.

  3. Wild’s Kuemper generates third shutout in fourth start of 2014-15

    Oct 24, 2014, 1:14 AM EDT

    Darcy Kuemper AP

    This one didn’t come against Colorado, either.

  4. Pondering Boston’s defense without Chara

    Oct 24, 2014, 12:49 AM EDT

    Boston Bruins v Buffalo Sabres Getty Images

    Chris Kelly calls him “irreplaceable.”

  5. Reports: Chara could miss at least 4-6 weeks with knee injury

    Oct 23, 2014, 11:33 PM EDT

    Boston Bruins v Buffalo Sabres Getty Images

    The Bruins haven’t confirmed or denied the dire update.

  6. Ryan Miller shines in Canucks’ win against Blues

    Oct 23, 2014, 11:29 PM EDT

    Ryan Miller AP

    Is “revenge” too strong of a word for it?

  7. Video: Red Wings’ stars stun Penguins with late surge

    Oct 23, 2014, 10:22 PM EDT

    Detroit Red Wings v Phoenix Coyotes Getty Images

    Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall made it happen.

  8. Ted Nolan readies to coach against his son Jordan for first time

    Oct 23, 2014, 7:18 PM EDT

    Boston Bruins v Buffalo Sabres Getty Images

    He’s hoping no one drops the gloves with Jordan tonight.

  9. Jets coach says Evander Kane will resume skating this week

    Oct 23, 2014, 6:25 PM EDT

    Evander Kane AP

    Winnipeg’s offense could use the power forward.

  10. Roy confirms Varlamov will start Friday

    Oct 23, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    DENVER, CO - APRIL 03: Goalie Semyon Varlamov #1 of the Colorado Avalanche makes a glove save against the New York Rangers at Pepsi Center on April 3, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Rangers 3-2 in an overtime shootout. Getty Images

    Colorado could really use a win.

  11. (Video) PHT Extra: Caps fans should be encouraged

    Oct 23, 2014, 3:23 PM EDT

    Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz Getty Images

    Washington’s looked pretty darn good under Barry Trotz.

  12. Canucks taking postives from 6-3 loss in Dallas

    Oct 23, 2014, 3:02 PM EDT

    Radim Vrbata, Trevor Daley, Cody Eakin, Kari Lehtonen AP

    “I thought our team was really resilient,” said Dan Hamhuis.

Featured video

Caps' 'culture change' proving positive

Sign up for Fantasy hockey

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. J. Spezza (3090)
  2. E. Kane (2729)
  3. P. Datsyuk (2654)
  4. P. Stastny (2548)
  5. J. Drouin (2483)
  1. M. Gaborik (2410)
  2. V. Hedman (2343)
  3. E. Staal (2225)
  4. S. Varlamov (2204)
  5. J. Franzen (2076)